August 29, 2006

Oregon City Municipal Elevator & Promenade

7th Street & Railroad Ave, Oregon City
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get there via trimet

The Oregon City Public Elevator!

The observation deck of the elevator

Willamette Falls Locks close-up
When you're looking for something to do around Oregon City, one option is to check out the Municipal Elevator.

First of all, how many places have municipal elevators? Let's see... in the U.S., there's just one. And it's free.

If you drive, there is ample parking in the area (with meters). The entrance to the elevator, as you might imagine, is a tunnel in the side of the bluff. There are handwritten directions outside the elevator door: no bikes, no groups bigger than 10 people, and if you think you'll flaunt this, you'll have to explain it to the elderly elevator operator!

There is also a staircase, if you'd like.

The top of the bluff is about 90 feet up. That doesn't sound like much, but once you're in the star trek like observation pod, everything looks a lot small down there.

The observation deck is glassed in, giving you a nice panarama of Oregon City, the Willamette River, I-205, and the paper plants that line both sides of the river. Crudely painted dioramas give you the short version of OC history.

Step out of the observation deck, and you're on the OC Promenade. Like a lot of parkland in the Portland area, this was donated by a rich robber baron person (in this case, Dr. John McLoughlin who worked for Hudson's Bay Company) before the turn of the last century. There is a stone handrail to keep you out of harms way, and a nice well-maintained paved path along the ridge the bluff. You pass by ancient houses (noted by their original owner and style; after all, OC was the first incorporated city west of the Rockies).

The views of the river, the city, the bridge, and the paper plants is just spectacular. Walk a bit further south on the Promenade, and you get a great view of the Willamette Falls Locks. If you want a better view still, go to the south end of the Promenade to the parking lot of the VFW Bingo Hall (one of several prominent quonset huts in OC) to the pedestrian bridge/catwalk across McLoughlin Blvd.

The Promenade is not strenuous or long. Round trip is probably less than half a mile. But it is quite visually interesting.

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